Tired of traditional instant messaging? Want to send your friends messages they will actually remember? Want to send your friends on an adventure?
This is Traces, an app created by UCL neuroscientist Beau Lotto.
With Traces, messaging has never been so much of an adventure. The app lets you hide secret messages and digital gifts anywhere in the real world for your friends, family or strangers to find and discover. Think of someone else and then create an experience for them by leaving them something meaningful to them.
Traces is a part messenger, part surprise-gifting service mixed with a layer of augmented reality to visualise the trace. By sharing your ideas and thoughts to places that matter to you, the meaning of the message and the messaging experience changes at a fundamental level.
Your messages are blended with your phone’s camera view in a unique immersive way using Traces patented approach to augmented reality and GPS technology.
Your messages to the world appear floating in a virtual water droplet/floating bubble – like a portal to another digital dimension – which is called a “trace”.
“We use a layer of augmented reality to visualize the trace — this is because it enables the brain to embody the world around it (the message appears to be floating ‘out there’) — as opposed to other conventional messaging apps which cause the brain to inhabit the phone, to the exclusion of a sense of location” says Beau Lotto.
Create a trace
Creating a trace and leave content floating anywhere in the real world is easy. First think of a friend (or choose to post publicly). Then, hold up your phone like you were taking a picture and fill the “trace” with a message, video, a picture, sound or music. Now, place it anywhere in the world using the map and send your friends on a mission to find it.
Discover a trace
To collect your trace and access the specially placed digital gift, your friends have to go to the right place (that special place where you left the trace or simply their home, their school, their work, their favourite coffee shop or club, you decide). Only then they receive your trace which appears floating in the real world like a magic drop. When they catch the trace with their phone, they will get your message.
Collect the trace
To catch a trace and collect photos and videos floating around the world with your phone, hold up your phone and catch the trace in the target. There are also traces around the world with exclusive content and creative experiences. Use the map to discover where other traces are located. Be in the exact spot to collect them. Once you collect a trace, the content stays with your forever.
The upcoming version of Traces will allow:
– to send a Trace directly to your friend’s phone
– to place a face in a trace
Why we love Traces:
- It engages people with the world and other people.
- It emphasises the gifting side of showing vs. the broadcasting
- It brings new meaning and value to messaging thanks to the creativity of the sender, the trust of the user and the meaning of the location
- The receiver’s engagement with the surrounding environment is enhanced
“If we put effort into something, we tend to see it as being more valuable. Especially that Traces differs from other social messaging apps in that it emphasizes both “the shared commitment of both people involved” and “the gifting side of sharing”, says Beau Lotto.
- There are so many creative ways to use the app, resulting in unique messages and experiences
Here are some other ideas from the Traces Team:
- Surprise a friend far away from you with a private trace.
- Leave a picture in the place you took it as a memory for you and your friends
- Leave a trail of digital clues for your friends to find in a scavenger hunt
- What’s your favourite restaurant? Share a public trace outside the venue and tell the world.
- Do you have a special memory linked to a place? Browse the map and leave a trace floating forever in the sky.
- Find other people’s public traces and leave them a comment. Can you guess the content of their trace?
- Leave tips on the places people should visit in your favourite foreign city
- Leave feedback to a company right in the boardroom of their headquarters.